Dallas police classify break-ins as vandalism and not burglaries if the intruders leave empty-handed, reports the Dallas Morning News. Federal guidelines instruct police to report break-ins as burglary attempts unless the “investigation clearly established that the unlawful entry was for a purpose other than to commit a felony or theft.” Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle said officers report burglaries only when there is solid evidence of what an intruder intended to do. Breaking a lock or kicking in a door may lead to assumptions of intent, he said, but they do not constitute evidence of that intent.
So far this year, police have classified 16,000 crimes as vandalism cases. The Morning News examined one week’s worth and founed that of more than 400 recorded cases of vandalism, more than 50 were attempted or successful break-ins. They involved criminals kicking in doors, smashing windows, and prying locks to get into homes and businesses. If these reports had been added to that week’s 469 recorded burglaries, it would have raised the tally by more than 10 percent. FBI officials said the scenarios most likely fall into the category of burglaries. Kunkle says the FBI’s training and auditing on crime-reporting issues are too vague and contradictory to create a system where all cities report crime statistics the same way.